Meditation is sometimes shrouded in mystery, however, in reality, it is simply a tool used to quiet the mind using a variety of methods.
One of the simplest methods is to focus on the breath. By closing the eyes and turning our attention to our breathing in and out, we can gradually switch the mind from busily thinking about anything and everything, the past and the future, to the now and coming back to the present moment.
If you have not tried meditation before yourself, then try it now for a few minutes. Close your eyes. Breath in, breath out. Repeat a few times. See if you calm down, if even a little. Pay attention to how your body and mind seems to relax with this simple method.
Contents of This Article
So Why Kids Meditation?
Kids these days are extremely busy. Hours at school, often a commute, homework, extra-curricular activities, play groups, music lessons, sport, TV and dare I say it, iPhones, iPads, notepads or other screen time to add to their hectic lives and minds. Never before in history have children been so busy and consumed by mental activities. How often do you see children day dreaming these days or just chilling out, without a screen in front of them that is?
This constant stimulation of mental activity may be a cause for children becoming more withdrawn and detached from reality. Over time, this could have a significant impact on your child’s learning abilities as well as social skills and general happiness and well-being.
More and more research is pointing to the fact that children learn and develop in a healthier way if they have more time to relax and play in a non-structured way in balance with other structured learning. Meditation can help kids find some relaxation to enhance their lives.
Benefits of Meditation For Children
The benefits of meditation include improving concentration, increased happiness, self-awareness, acceptance, stress reduction. Furthermore, practising over a period of time can improve the immune system through a more relaxed body.
How to start?
The simplest way to start is to first introduce the concept of meditation to your child or children. If you have been practicing yourself, even a little, then you will be able to explain it to them far more easily and it can also become a fun little exercise for you to do together.
You would be surprised at how quickly kids adapt to picking up meditation techniques and actually looking forward to a daily practice. Bear in mind, that for anyone who is beginning to learn meditation it may prove difficult at first to sit still and just be present with the exercises, especially for children. Therefore, start off with a simple practice of just 2-5 minutes a day and then build from there as they became more relaxed and centred over time. It is important that a meditation practice does not become cumbersome for anyone, child or adult, so starting with just a few minutes a day is really great!
So, to begin, find a time and place where you can sit or lie quietly and won’t be disturbed. This could be one on one with your child or in a group, but of course the more children there are, the more difficult it will be for them to concentrate.
When Is The Best Time For Kids To Begin Their Meditation Practice?
In the beginning, it is best to try at bedtime when it is time to wind down before sleep. Ask the child to gently close their eyes and breathe in through their mouth and out through their nose. Breathe with them and have fun with it. They may well find this funny to begin with.
Repeat this sequence a few times and gradually slow the breathing down together. If they have trouble concentrating, you can ask them to focus on the end of their nose as they breathe in. Can they feel the air on the end of their nose as they breathe in? Repeat this a few times. You could also ask them to wiggle their toes as they breathe out in order to bring their attention to the breathing and into their body, rather than on their mind wanderings.
Repeat the breathing in and out as the child starts to calm down. For starters, just try this for a minute or two and gradually build up with time. It’s an exercise in becoming familiar with focusing on the breath.
Once a child is familiar with focusing on their breath, you can try this at home, in the car, travelling, at school and of course at the beach or on a picnic in more relaxed settings. More meditation methods can be developed over time and with practice. However, this is a great place to start.
There are several great books written for children to help them understand and learn meditation. Some of these books are even suitable for toddlers as they are written in the form of a bedtime story. As you read the story to them, they will naturally begin to gain an understanding of meditation and instinctively begin to practice simple techniques themselves that can help to improve their concentration, allow them to calm down, relax and also sleep more peacefully.
We will be listing our top recommended meditation books for children soon, so do please check back for updates!
Article written by Greg March